BIBLE STUDY: PART XVII
V.1- Here, the man who was "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,” in verse one of chapter one, is in this verse 1, “...the prisoner of the Lord.” This phrase means he is the prisoner in the Lord, or for the Lord’s sake. So, Paul was beseeching, or exhorting and encouraging, the Christians for the Lord’s sake so that they would not fall away. But also for his own sake so that all the work he had put into their growth and development would not have been in vain. But it was mostly for Jesus’ sake, so that the people would honor and glorify God, in three Persons.
Paul was told the Christians there that they needed to walk “worthy” (which means of sufficient weight) of their calling, or that they should walk in grace. They had to watch their behavior, their conversations, and their attitudes so that those watching them could see Christ in them, the hope of glory, to which they were called, and not evil. I think he was telling them is that he was prisoner in jail by man, but that his spiritual captor was Christ. Paul hadn’t done anything evil that he should be jailed for since his conversion. He had nothing to feel guilty about, he was there for the sake of the Lord he served. He wanted them to know that, yes, he was in a physical jail, but that his real bondage was to Jesus. You can almost hear him say, “Now listen,” to make sure he had their attention.
Let’s read I Thessalonians 2:10-12. Paul is told these people the same thing. He assured them of his love for them, and that all he had said to them was truth. He made it clear to them that he and his helpers worked night and day for them. Then he told them to walk as witnesses worthy of all that Jesus had done for them.
The calling Paul is referring to here is the calling put on them by the Spirit by God. Man can teach the mind of man, leading the way to his salvation, but God's Spirit enters into the heart of man and makes him aware of his longing for the Lord. God anointed and appointed each of those people for a particular task. Each of them was born with talents and gifts that God selected especially to fulfill those tasks. They were the ones who got side tracked along the way. Now that those people had found their way back to God, Paul wanted to help them walk in a way that showed everyone their grace and gentleness that was given them after being saved.
V.2- Paul wanted the Ephesians to walk in humility and meekness. He wanted them to be gentle, showing mercy on others as mercy was shown to them. Humility is an unselfish concern for others. What is meekness? It’s balance and an even temper. It is power and strength under control. So we need to think more of others than ourselves, and be willing to serve them with gentle kindness in whatever way is necessary to assist them through difficult times. When we use meekness, humility, and grace in dealing with the lost, our love might be just the thing that points them to Jesus for salvation.
Longsuffering is patient endurance, even in persecution and bad treatment. Bearing up means to stand firm and not lose courage under pressure. Let’s put this together in a sentence. “With gentleness and a balanced temper, we can endure all things, yet keep our courage strong.” How would that affect our witness? In positive way.
V. 3- So we are to endeavor (try, work hard at, strain the muscles) to “keep the unity of the Spirit” in peace. Colossians 3:14 tells us that love is the bond of perfection. So by having all these attributes built up in ourselves, we develop peace within ourselves, and with those around us. What is the “unity of the Spirit?” It is a union between believers and the Holy ghost. It is a bond forged in love. When we express love outwardly toward others, we keep peace with each other. When we are united under God, we become part of the same body, and have the same mind. We are in one accord with the Word, and our hearts and affections are for God. That is unity in the Spirit.
God bless you as you practice humility and meekness this week.
BIBLE STUDY: PART XVIII
V.4 - The “one body” is the church made up of Jews and gentiles. We are all of the same bodyand Spirit, and of the same mind. We are born from above by Jesus, baptized in water, and baptized in the Spirit. We may come from several different denominations, and we may attend services at different buildings, the church is the body of all the members under Christ. All who claim the rebirth by water and Spirit, and who worship the Lord according to the Bible, are of the same body. Does that mean all who claim they are Christians are part of the body? No. Why not? Let’s read Romans 12:3-5. "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."
We are to think of others first. That doesn’t mean we have to think of ourselves as useless, or worthless, but rather, no more than equal with others. Our job in the church is not more important than someone else’s. The church will not close its doors if you leave there. Your services are valuable, as long as you do them with the right spirit, but they are not irreplaceable. Also, you are not more valuable to God so that He would save you first before anyone. He loves us all the same, and that’s how we need to love others and ourselves.
My friend who put many hours into teaching me about the Lord, Pat Knight, calls Christians cannibals. That can be confirmed in Galatians 5 where it’s talking about love and how it fulfills the Law. Verse 15 says, “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." It is a very real problem in the body. We need to learn to put the best interest of others first. That does not mean we go without. It means we treat others as we would like them to treat us.
There is only one Spirit of God. It’s He who calls us unto salvation. He gives life, convicts us of sin, reveals things to us, and makes us whole in our faith. He is our Comforter, our prayer Partner who prays with words to deep to understand so they sound like groanings (Romans 8:26). The Spirit is our seal. Because of all this, we need to work toward the Unity of the Spirit we talked about last week. If we are not humble, and are not working in the unity of the Spirit, we cannot produce good, juicy fruits.
What is the hope of your calling? It is your home in heaven one day. When you were called, you answered, so you have been promised a new living area in Christ’s mansion. One day you will take up residence in that mansion. Also, you have been promised that crowns will be waiting for you in heaven. They are the crowns of Life: Joy: Righteousness: Glory, and the Imperishable. What are we going to do with those crowns? We will joyfully cast them at Jesus feat in worship. Why? Because we will sit under the one crown of life, God. Who will get these crowns? Anyone who loves the Lord Jesus, and has accepted Him as Savior. There are no exceptions to the rule.
V.5 - There is one Lord. Christ is not divided (I Corinthian 1:13). “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" There is only one first born of God, and that’s Jesus. Jesus is the Bridegroom of the church, and therefore, we must submit to Him in all things. He is the Only Lord over the Body. Since Jesus paid the price to buy us out of hell, we belong to Him body and soul. We need to glorify the Lord because of His great love for us.
What is faith? It is a steadfast belief in a Higher Power. There are varying degrees of faith. There is the conditional faith that says, “If this chair is strong, and the legs are in tact, and there are nails or something to hold it all together, I can sit on it and it will hold me.” There is temporary faith that says, “I trust you right now, until you show me I can’t trust you.” Then there is absolute faith. That’s the only kind God is interested in. We need to believe unconditionally that God is our Source. Without Him we are nothing. With Him, we can do all things. Philippians 4:13 tells us that we can do all things through Christ who gives us the strength. Who is Christ? He is The Son of God.
One baptism is the water baptism that we participate in to demonstrate publicly our love for God. It symbolizes the dead man being buried, and the new man being born of water. We are baptized, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost because we believe in the Triune God, and have claimed Him as our own. Public baptisms are a wonderful witnessing tool, and should be done at a beach any time possible. But one must never be denied the right to be baptized because of the season. If it’s too cold outside, do it inside, but advertise it publicly.
V.6 - There is one God and Father of all. He is the Creator, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Giver of life. He is the only living God who actually can communicate with us. We are in Him because we are His children. We are His by creation, by design, and by choice. Let’s look at John 1:10-13. "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Because we believe in Him, we were given the right to claim His as our own.
There are seven “ones” in this portion of Scripture. They are: One Body, One Spirit, One Hope, One Lord, One faith, One baptism, and One God and Father. I will paraphrase Walvoord and Zuck a little. In their commentary, they say that the Spirit revitalizes the body of all believers so we have hope. These bodies are united in one Jesus Lord and identify with Him through baptism. And God the Father is supreme over all bodies, and resides in all hearts. He says this is the unity of the Trinity.
BIBLE STUDY: PART XIX
V.7- The measure of grace each believer is given is the enablement to perform whatever tasks God has chosen for us. We are each given a position within the body, and to perform it, we need the grace of God. Let’s read I Corinthians 12:4-11. “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
This is God’s way of equipping the church to be able to carry out our anointing in the body. We are only to work within the talents and gifts we have been given, and not try to exceed that. The grace we have been given is the ability to accomplish the great things for God that He asks of us. We know that great things are not always visible works, or positions that bring fame, wealth or glory. But all ministries given us by God are valuable to the body, and therefore seen as great in His eyes.
V.8 - After Jesus walked the earth for the forty days following His resurrection, He ascended to heaven to take His seat at the right hand of God (Acts 1:9). What is captivity? It’s satan. satan binds us in the chains of sin and destruction. When Jesus took captivity captive, what he did was expose the devil, and break those chains. We are no longer in the dark about where sin comes from, or how to overcome it in our lives. Jesus won the overall victory. We need to win the skirmishes of each day against the devil.
If you remember, in the Old Testament, after the people were finished fighting a battle against nations that rose to overtake them, they distributed the spoils among those who fought. This was there gift for having been faithful to the General during the war. In this verse, we are seeing Jesus distribute spiritual gifts according to His will. We who stand by Jesus in His victory over sin and death are rewarded by the distribution of the gifts that we need to continue to defeat the enemy daily.
V.9,10 - One thing I’m finding out by studying the Word is that no one agrees on much. These verses have created quite a controversy. It make sense that for Christ to ascend, He first had to descend. The controversy comes from the question, where did He descend to? Some say that the descent was Jesus’ incarnation when He came to earth and was carried in Mary‘s womb. Some say He went to Sheol to release the dead patriarchs, but that would make I Thessalonians wrong. Let’s read that.
Still the third thought is that it was Jesus separation from God as He carried our sin. It was a torment like hell to feel God’s wrath upon Him. I have always been told that this meant Jesus walked in hell. Let’s read Acts 2:27 to see what David said about Jesus. If God will not leave His soul in hades, it means He went there, in my opinion. Let’s look at Philippians 2:5-11. Every knee, over the earth (the angels) on the earth (us) and under the earth (the dead in Christ) will bow to Jesus. And every single tongue in those places will testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Holy Son of God, and God will be glorified.
V. 11- Who is He Himself? Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who set up the offices of the church. In my research, again, I found controversy about what apostle and prophet is, and if they still operate in the church today. I believe that since Jesus set up the hierarchy of the church, these offices still exist. No one now can become a true apostle as the meaning that they are the ones who were hand chosen by Jesus, and were “ones sent out as authoritative delegates.” But I believe there are people working in the office of apostle as did Timothy, Silas and James.
Do prophets work in this day? Yes. I think so anyway. Their function is to forthtell what is happening in the church now. They are not prophets like of Old, but new prophets that help to build the church, and keep it together.
Evangelists are pastors who are not assigned to one church, but roam around bringing the Word to the lost.
Then the pastors are the ones who are attached to a particular church, run their political system, and teach the Word of God. Teachers are often used within the church for Sunday school and other teaching things. They are also the teachers in seminaries, and in Christian schools. Anyone who studies the Word, and presents it in an understandable fashion is a teacher. Although pastors and teachers can be separate beings, I think pastors must be teachers as well.
V. 12- Why were we given these things? Because they are the way to equip God’s people for His service. We are given gifts, talents, and abilities so that we can impart the information to others as they become saved, and send them out to continue the work as one of these officers. Not everyone will become a prophet, or evangelist/missionary, or even teacher, but each one will be able to give a word in due season to build the church.
BIBLE STUDY: PART XX
V.12 - Equipping means to provide what is necessary for use in an undertaking. It is to repair what is broken and make it perfect. God says we became disjointed, broken, in Adam’s fall, then in the scattering of the nations at Babel. Now He is equipping us, or mending us together under the headship of Jesus. We need to be prepared for the work we are called to do. No one on his own can come up and do the work. We can start doing it as soon as we become saved, but until we have been given the tools to use, we are not very effective.
What does being equipped, or connected under Christ bring? Edification to the body of Christ. To edify is to morally and spiritually uplift, enlighten and encourage one another. When we have the tools we need, we can do the work, and the body can be uplifted and enlightened. We can make a difference in the work.
Will it always be easy to work for the ministry of God’s Word? No. One example is found in Colossians 1:24. Paul makes it clear that this work comes with suffering in it, and that the suffering is for the sake of the body, which is the church. We can’t expect to be born again workers for the Lord, and never suffer the persecution satan will bring to discourage us. That’s why Paul “rejoices” in this suffering. He took it as a sigh that he was really doing good work for God. Does it mean we will suffer everyday? No. But we can’t expect never to suffer either.
V.13 - How long do we have to continue raising up preachers, teachers, and Christians to equip other believers? Until we reach the unity of the faith spoken of here. What is that unity? It’s the unity that will come when all men hear (Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. [Romans 10:17]), and agree on who Christ is (Colossians 2:1-3). We will continue to preach the Word, and raise up workers until the day of Christ’s return for His elect.
What is this perfect man? It is the non-gender specific person we are working to become. The one Paul speaks of in Philippians 3:12-16. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing."
This man is the reason to strive, press on toward the goal, to win the prize. What is that prize? Perfection. The fullness of Christ in each of us.
V.14 - We should no longer be like children in our behavior. We should be working hard, striving toward leaving our sin nature behind. We need to give up lying, cheating, swearing, using God’s name in vain, and every assorted type of sin. What’s more, we should be so firmly entrenched in our faith that no matter who comes along with some word of knowledge, or some trickery to call us away from Jesus, we can stand firm in our beliefs, and step away from them, and not God. Men can be used by devils to do their work. We have to be on constant alert against the false teachers, and prophets that are coming our way. The harder you work for God, the deeper your faith, the stronger will be the temptation to try something new.
Let’s read Romans 16:17-20. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, Amen."
V.15 - Instead of being fooled, speak out the Word of God to those trying to pull you away. They can’t stand against it. They will be “bruised” by the Word. As we learn more, and become deeper in faith, we grow more in Christ’s likeness. We can now bruise, or crush the devils that come against us. We have been given the power to have victory over darkness. We can grow up into Him who is the Head of the Body.
V.16 - We have established that the body is the church, and Christ is the Head of the body. We know that each of us is a portion of that body. Some pieces are visible, others are under cover, so to speak, but all are equally important in function. We are all joined by one thing, the Brain, the Head, the Leader, Jesus Christ. When each part of the body functions correctly, the body is healthy, and growth can occur. If each member of the body supports, uplifts and encourages the others to grow, we reap the bounty of love which edifies, and unites us as one under Christ. Let’s be part of the equipping process instead of the discouraging process.
May the Holy Spirit give each of you discernment so that you can see through the deception of false teacher and prophets. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
BIBLE STUDY: PART XXI
V.17 - This verse begins an exhortation by Paul to the saved people. He is testifying “in the Lord.” This means he is speaking words of Jesus. Let’s read John 11:8-10. “His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.”
Jesus made it clear that we need to walk in the Light, which is Himself. If we walk in the darkness of the world that belongs to satan, we will stumble and fall. We are to walk in the way, not as the Gentiles walk on the path that leads to destruction, but on the path that leads to the narrow door of heaven. Is our path easy to walk? Let’s see what Matthew had to say about it in Matthew 7:13,14. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
What I get from this is that those who are on the way to hell are on a downward slide, and there’s no friction to stop them. Those going to heaven have to fight gravity and move upward on a narrow path. The loss of a loved one might attack you. Maybe you have financial troubles. Perhaps you have marital problems. satan will attack you at every turn so that you cannot achieve what God wants for you. That’s why we have to lean on God to help us make it all the way , and trust in the Lord with all our hearts.
The Gentiles walk in the futility of their minds. Meaning? They walk in pride. There’s no room in their minds or hearts for God. They think they can make it on their own without help. It’s satan’s deceit again. The Gentiles have not met the real Jesus, and don’t know the power of the resurrected Lord for their lives.
Gentiles serve and honor many gods. They have lust, money, cars, homes, and all sorts of things they “love.” But they do not have the living God to love who can make changes in their lives. What happened to the prophets of Baal when they begged for an entire day for fire to come and burn their sacrifice? Not a thing! We’ll read
I Kings 18:20-29. “So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Eli'jah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Ba'al, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. Then said Eli'jah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Ba'al's prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. And Eli'jah said unto the prophets of Ba'al, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Ba'al from morning even until noon, saying, O Ba'al, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. And it came to pass at noon, that Eli'jah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.”
Even cutting themselves, and bleeding all over the place brought no response from their gods. It’s sad to say that people still worship and speak to false gods.
Now let’s read VV.30-40 in this chapter. “And Eli'jah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Eli'jah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water. And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Eli'jah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. And Eli'jah said unto them, Take the prophets of Ba'al; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Eli'jah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.” The difference is clear. When you serve a living God, He hears your prayers, and He answers them.
When you accept Jesus as Savior, you need to give up the other gods in your life, and walk in clarity of mind, and with purpose of heart. You are on the way to a special place.
V.18 - The dark understanding does not have anything to do with their cognitive skills. They see, hear, and know according to the worlds standards, but they lack spiritual knowledge and wisdom. Even Gentiles who attend churches regularly have no clue about the reality and power of God. They don’t know they are on the straight path to destruction because their eyes are blinded by the wicked one. Let’s read Romans 1:18-21 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” This means that everyone knows of God, but since they choose not to praise and thank Him, they are turned to the futility of their own minds.
V.19 - What we are fighting against when we evangelize the lost is the futile, ineffective thought processes they use to convince themselves they are fine without God. They have given up the truth of who and what God is, and He has turned them over to their own lusts.
This is why making excuses for homosexuals is wrong. Men and woman gave themselves over to this abomination. God did not create a gene that makes them queer, (odd, different) then tell them they are sinners. God created perfection. Man distorted that, and continues to do so. Is it easy to get out of this sin? No. But no sexual lust is easy to break out of.
One thing that separates us from the Gentiles is that we feel shame when we sin; they feel nothing. Their hearts have been hardened, and they don’t even realize that some of the things they do are very wrong. They listen to the prince of darkness, and believe his lies that they deserve to be this happy. In I John 2:16 it tells us that, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” But their “conscience has been seared with a hot iron” as I Timothy 4:2 states it. It’s as though they took a hot iron from the fire and cauterized their conscience to stem the flow if conviction from pouring out and making them feel bad.
Where is satan’s lie in this? People in sin are not happy! satan claims there is no sin, and they have bought into it. If there is any truth to this, why then do these unsaved people exhibit signs of depression, despair, anger, bitterness, anxiety, and all sorts of negative emotions? Because it’s not true! Sin is a destructive force, and it leads to eternal damnation and destruction.
In Christ, we are supposed to overcome sin because we now walk in the purity of regeneration and redemption. Will we still sin occasionally? Yes, we will. Now, though, we have access to the throne, and can be forgiven instantly as we repent. Our consciences can be purified. We are cleansed each time. But that only by the blood of our redeeming Savior.
BIBLE STUDY: PART XXII
V.20 - “But you have not so learned Christ.” What do you suppose the writer here is telling the letter readers? It means we are no longer unregenerate sinners. We now have the Living Savior and all His benefits. We no longer desire to walk in uncleanness, but we desire to walk in a way that is pleasing to God. We are still sinners, but we are no longer proud of our ability to get away with things.
We all know that taking more change back from a store clerk is like stealing, but when we walked in the way of the world, it was something we bragged about. “Wow!” someone might say, “I gave her a ten, and she gave me back change for a twenty!” Christians should no longer take part in this behavior. We are new creatures in Christ. The ways of the world should now hurt our hearts. We are not yet perfect, but we are now striving to become perfected. We realize the change in ourselves as each sin we commit brings us anguish, and not the pleasure it once did. What gives us pleasure now is to please the Lord. We no longer walk in the darkness of the wide way. When we do sin, it makes us feel heavy in our hearts, and we need to deal with it. If guilt does not ever enter your thoughts, you must wonder if you are saved. God does not condemn His own, but our own hearts and minds do. And the Spirit of God will nudge our conscience, which is the main thing that separates the unregenerate sinner, from the redeemed of the Lord.
V.21 - This verse does not imply that we have heard Jesus preach directly, but that He has been preached to us by those anointed to the ministry. We can all tell others about Jesus, and are supposed to, but God has selected certain people to preach His Word to men Remember in Colossians what Paul said? Please read I Timothy 2:5-7; Ephesians 3:7 and Romans 15:16 before continuing on. God has appointed people to preach the Word. What these pastors are supposed to teach us is how to hear from God from within ourselves. That is a large part of spiritual growth. First we hear from outside about the goodness, mercy and grace of God. Then, as we mature, we begin to hear from Him directly on the inside.
How do we hear from God internally? By His Holy Spirit. It is His job to guide us into all truth. Let’s see what Jesus says about this in John 16:12,13. “Whatever He (the Holy Spirit) hears He will speak.” What does that suggest? It tells me that the Holy Spirit receives informatiom from God the Father to benefit our lives, and that He then reveals this to our inward man. Since we know that God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19), we know that the Spirit of God can tell us only the truth. If the Spirit suggests that what you have done is sin, and your conscience niggles about it, then you must repent, and clear the air between you and the Father.
We all have had a favorite teacher at some time. I’m not only talking about teachers who taught for a living, but those who have been responsible for life changes in us from their truths. If man, or woman, can help us change by teaching, or demonstrating something to us from the outside, how much more effective is the Spirit who is within us constantly? The truth is not in us, but it is in Jesus, and that means His words are pure, undefiled, and when we listen to His truth He fills us with wisdom and knowledge.
V.22 - What is the old man? It’s the nature of man that was corrupted by sin. What must we do with this old man? We need to relocate him from his position as head of us to dead (Galatians 2:19). We need to replace Him with Jesus (Galatians 2:20). The old man is the one who can steal, lie, kill and perform other sinful behavior without much guilt. The new man, the one filled with the blessed Savior, tries to ignore this old man, not giving him any leverage to be able to have a say in what he does. Every time the new man overcomes one of his bad behaviors, he takes away some more of the power the old man had over him. This is known as making a spiritual breakthrough. But the old man is stubborn, and will try to regain control. He is full of lust for things and promises whatever we can get will give us more pleasure. He tries to make us believe we can get away with anything. That’s another thing which leads to false teaching. The old man is filled with pride and thinks he knows everything, but all he does is lead us into corruption if we listen to him. And he returns us to our former condition (Matthew 12:45). But when we take charge, allowing the Spirit to teach us, learning how to behave, we undermine the old man, take charge of our lives, allowing growth and maturity to replace him.
V.23 - What is the “spirit of your mind?" It is the Spirit working in you. He is the Author and Finisher of the good works begun in us at salvation. Let’s read Titus 3:1-7. Once we are washed, regenerated, and renewed in our minds by the Spirit whom God poured out into believers abundantly, we are justified, and become heirs with Jesus to the kingdom.
This portion of Scripture was written to the believers in Ephesus. Does this letter imply they are not redeemed? No. It is telling them that salvation is a process, and part of the process is to unseat the old man. Process means something ongoing. So, we can glean from this that the old man is a hard one to knock out. But with the Spirit to guide and teach, we can do it. How do we achieve this? By prayer, with thanksgiving for the salvation and redemption we have. My message yesterday taught about praying with a thankful heart. This is a good time to use that. “Thank You, Lord, for my salvation. Please continue to work out wisdom and knowledge in me that I might overcome the old man, and the demons who try to place him back in authority over my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
V.24 - What is the new man we need to put on? Look at Galatians 3:27. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
Now let’s go to Romans 6:1-7. “ What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.”
We are freed from sin when we put on the Lord Christ as our garment of purity. But there are things we must do once we are in Christ. As our minds are renewed we learn, and develop humility. We have to cast our cares on Him who loves us. We have to work to remain free. We have given up the corrupt nature, and put on Christ. Now we need to work that out daily with prayer, and with thanksgiving. Being thankful is one of the most important keys to gaining blessings in our lives. When you ask God for what you need to make these changes in your heart, ask with a grateful attitude for what has already changed. Allow Him the freedom to bless you.
When satan works against you, and convinces you to sin, he loves nothing more than to expose that sin, and to criticize you and condemn you for your weakness. But with God there is no condemnation. Let's see this truth in Romans 8:1-8. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
Let's not be enemies against God.
BIBLE STUDY: PART XXIII
V.25 - Several times since Larry and I moved here, we have come against the idea that lying is not sin. If it’s part of the old man, and we are told to “put off the old man” doesn’t it follow that lying is sin? If lying were something worthwhile to us now, God would never have told us to stop it. He would not have told us lying is an abomination to Him. Let’s go to Proverbs 6:16-19 and see what God thinks of lies. “These six things doth the LORD hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, a false witness that and he that soweth discord among the brethren.”
What is lying? It is an agreement between the mind, where you think up the lie, and the tongue which speaks it. Lies are told to deceive, discredit, and convince. There are many reasons why people lie, but they all fall into these three basic categories. We should not accuse people of lying when they believe what they are saying is the truth, even when it isn’t. We can correct them, though, so they won‘t keep speak the falsehood. But if they embellish the truth, then they are lying.
Another thing that is not lying is parables, and stories that are told for teaching or entertainment. We know that God the Son- Jesus- told parables. The word Parable is from the Greek verb paraballo which means to “lay by the side of,” to “compare”; “a likeness, similitude.” These things benefit people, and are not told as a way to control or deceive others. We can rest assured that parables are not be lies because of Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (This is a correction given to Balak when he wanted Balaam to curse Israel. God had promised blessings on Israel, and could not recant His Word to them.) We know by this that Jesus was story telling, not lying. He was using situations from His day that the people could recognize, and by them, understand His teachings.
One thing we have to be very careful of is religious liars. They give us a list of dos and don’ts, supposedly for our own good, yet are actually a way of gaining control over us. Mind control begins with lies. So does heart, soul, and spirit control. If something doesn’t sound right, it isn’t in most cases. Read I John 4:1. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”
Who are we warned to be on guard against in the Bible? The father of lies, satan (John 8:44). We are also exhorted to watch for false witnesses, antichrists, and false prophets What makes them false? Their desire to lead us astray with lies. Most lies come from selfishness and pride. They have nothing to do with wanting to benefit anyone but self. Being caught in lies ruins a person’s witness, integrity, and reputation.
I John 4:1-6 warns, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
We are to turn from lies to the truth. Let’s read Zechariah 8:16,17. “These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: and let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbor; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.”
God is giving more commandments to Israel here. How do we know that. The ,”Thus says the Lord of hosts...” gives it away. Now that we have read that, why do you think it’s so important to speak the truth to our neighbors? For one, because every word we speak will one day need to be accounted for. For another, it’s a command. And for yet another, as members of the one body, any lie we tell, we are telling to ourselves as well as the others. What did Jesus say about Himself? He said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If we are to come up higher with Jesus, then we too must become the truth for all men to see.
V.26 - Anger and wrath are weapons of hell used by the devils to cause division in the church body. As we begin to hold grudges against each other, we fall into the gossip trap, and we begin to fabricate stories about the person we are disgruntled with. We must learn to put away all sorts of bitterness that comes up between mortals. Psalm 37:8 states this very well. “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.” Cease, halt, stop, desist, from anger and wrath. Does this mean we can never feel anger without being in sin? No. If anger was a sin, God could not express it. But, we are not to get so angry that we begin to seek revenge, or that we develop a desire to kill someone‘s good name. This anger stems from pride and jealousy. Many cultures in the middle east still promote that sort of behavior. They are so jealous of the freedoms others to live as they wish that they attack Israel, and now us. They become so filled with rage that it makes them furious, and leads them to destroy those they perceive as enemies. Why? Because they think they are the chosen ones.
Do you know what righteous anger is? It’s anger against sin; our own sin, and the sins of others. We hate sin, and become angry about it because we know it causes a poor relationship with God, our family, and our friends. Sin brings sickness to our bodies, a lack of joy and peace in our hearts, and so much more. Don’t let the heat of day dissipate and still keep the heat of anger within yourself. Before the sun sets, make peace one with another. Never hold anger against a person for more than a day. That’s the longest God allows. Joyce Meyer says if she needs to get mad at her husband, she likes to do it early in the day so she can milk it for all it’s worth before nighttime when she has to apologize.
V.27 - What is to give place to the devil? It means giving satan any opportunity to make Jesus look bad because of us. He loves it when we lie, or become angry and fall into sin. It makes room for him to oppress us. Remember, Jesus got very angry in the temple, but He never sinned. Please take time to read Romans 12 right now. If you have time, it would be good to read it in two or three translations.
In essence, Romans 12 is telling us we are to be of the same mind. Why? Because we are of the same body. We are not to search out the “important” people, but spend time with the humble. We are to repay no evil for evil. In all things, we must make a difference. We are to live with peace between us. If something happens, and revenge is needed, if you do not sin, and treat your enemy with love instead, God will exact revenge for you. And nothing would frighten me more than to know God is on my trail to avenge someone I injured.
V V 28-32 are “Do not” verses. If you stole things before, don’t do it anymore. It’s wrong. Have you ever stolen anything? Did it make you feel guilty? Working for what we want will not only make us pleasing before God, but also to ourselves. When you work hard for what you need, God makes sure you have more than enough for yourself so that you can share your blessings with Him and His people.
Note: I have been in churches where the board votes against helping people outside their congregation, or anyone who is not saved. They use the “do not cast your pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6) verse to absolve themselves from any need to feel guilty for not showing mercy. We are all God’s people, saved or not. And He wants us to help all people because that may be the tool He uses to draw those people to Himself.
What is a corrupt word? A lie, yes, but what else? Name calling, swearing, lewd joking, bribery, gossip, and slander are a few things I can think of.
Let’s stop the evil we perform with our tongues that cause destruction of others’ self esteem, joy, and love. Instead, with kindness, peace of heart and mind, joy, with forgiveness for wrongs we perceive were done to us, Let’s act like Jesus. Who had more to forgive than He? No one.